|Aquilegia formosa propagated from seeds from Big Sur|
This post is related to food in a way, but I am also in the process of creating a gardening site so I will keep the two creative aspects of my life separated.
|Salvia involucrata aka Rose bud salvia propagated by cuttings|
I am almost done with my Master Gardener certification, and I am busy applying all I have learned and more. When we bought the house I live in, the garden was partially landscaped with drought resistant plants, and since then I have been adding a vegetable garden, and more plants in spots where some plants didn't flourish. Initially I used aesthetic to select plants, and I had lots of failure, now I know why, either the conditions were not right for the plants or the soil wasn't amended well.
|Bumble bee, and excellent pollinator|
I have been using organic principles, composting, avoiding the use of pesticides, etc, but it wasn't until I heard all the wonderful lectures of the past 18 weeks that I deeply understood the practices of growing organically, and the importance of feeding the soil and maintaining beneficial insects.
|Soldier beetle in action|
Insecticides will kill an unwanted pest but also a wide variety of beneficial insects. Sometimes waiting a little will allow beneficial insects to find the pest, arrive in droves, multiply, and completely rid the plant of aphids. I haven't sprayed insecticides once in my garden, and recently added lots of plants that are beneficial to insects, plants that both feed the predator insects or attract pollinators. Yesterday I was so excited to see an army of soldier beetles attacking the many aphids on my red russian kale, I also saw a beautiful lacewing and that is a sign that the beneficial insects are hard at work eating away unwanted aphids. Some insects have a complete metamorphosis, like butterflies, the larva looks nothing like the adult form, so know your beneficial insects and their larval forms so you don't run the risk of killing them.
|Bees love this thorny plant, not sure of its name|
I am also turning my garden into a mini farm, we already have chickens, and inch by inch I am expanding the vegetable garden in the most sunny spot of the property. I have added herbs, grow annual vegetables, and also planted some uncommon edible plants like hops, and nettles. Borage is a wonderful and tasty edible, normally used to attract bees. It can reseed itself, to the point of becoming invasive, but all I have to do is keep only the seedlings that took in good locations and eat the rest. A win-win situation.
|Stinging nettle, for food and infusions|
I love stinging nettles in frittatas, risotto, and stuffed in ravioli, but I also infuse it in boiling water for 5 minutes, steep it for an hours, strain it and drink the water chilled.
Now for few recipes using ingredients grown in a garden...
Rose geranium lemonade
Pizza with kale and ricotta salata
Frittata with beet greens